Hanukkah 2020: How do Jews celebrate the Festival of Lights?
Antique candlestick from the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate

The celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) this year begins on December 10 and lasts for eight days.

Hanukkah is considered a religious holiday for the Jews, but it is a festival of joy, as they gather every night to prepare traditional foods, most of which are from pans.

The Feast of Lights, or inauguration, falls on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, the ninth month according to the Hebrew calendar.

This holiday has a historical and religious root, according to Jewish beliefs. In the second century BC, the Maccabean Jews led a revolt against the Seleucids in 165 BC. M. After the attempt of King Antiochus IV to impose Hellenistic culture and traditions on the Jews and to impose the worship of the Greek gods in the Temple of Solomon.

Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews as a memory of restoring freedom of worship. According to religious belief, the holy oil in the temple was not sufficient for the rebels to light the candles for more than two nights, but it remained burning for eight nights.

This year, and with the spread of the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus will be reflected in the collective Hanukkah rituals in many countries of the world, which include listening to the lessons and sermons of rabbis and clerics and holding collective prayer before sunset.

However, the tradition of lighting candles at sunset on the first day, and prayers and blessings will continue. Usually, a menorah seven-point candlestick is placed on the windows of homes, to appear to the outside.

During the days of Eid, Jews, especially religious ones, accept fried foods, which vary from country to country, including fried and sweetened pancakes, and mashed fried potatoes.

And because it is a family holiday, Hanukkah is characterized by the “nightingale game” that children play on the ground in many countries, and they also hear the songs of the holiday and recite the story of the construction of the Temple, and the miracle he witnessed according to religious belief.

Morocco is one of the few Arab countries where this holiday is part of the annual overt ceremonial traditions.

A Moroccan Jewish home is not without sponge desserts, which are fried in oil and eaten with honey. Some Jewish families also offer a “maqouda” dish, which is mashed potatoes with special spices that are fried in oil.

Jews and Muslims celebrate festivals in Morocco, especially in the Mellah (Jewish neighborhoods) in Moroccan cities. The Jews receive their Muslim friends and neighbors to celebrate with them and meet at the same table.

In addition to Hanukkah, the feast of the Maymouna, the Moroccan-Jewish holiday that concludes with Easter week, remains the most famous joint celebration and is a symbol of coexistence between Moroccans of all religions.

The Moroccan Jewish community makes a great effort to preserve its cultural heritage and traditions. Therefore, the link between the Moroccan expatriate Jews and their country of origin was not severed, as many of them return to the cities of their fathers and grandfathers to visit the shrines.

 

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